SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers leery of third-period reliance

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:54 PM ET

Supposedly, it’s not how you start but how you finish.

While the Edmonton Oilers have started finishing games recently, it’s time to start getting off to a good start before they find themselves caught in the trap of relying on a strong third period.

“We’re kind of a third-period team, I’ve noticed,” Ryan Jones said following Saturday’s 2-1 win over St. Louis in extra time. “We tend to turn it on, maybe it’s the youthful legs that we have in here.”

As youthful as they may be, the Oilers also have enough experience in the locker-room to realize the smart money is on not allowing themselves to fall behind.

“It’s always better when your team’s ahead, especially early,” said Tom Gilbert. “It gives everyone more confidence to go out there and just play their game.

“It’s not easy catching up with teams, especially in the third. We’ve done a great job of working ourselves back in the game. We’re doing a good job of sticking with our game plan nightly, not going outside of our systems where guys are doing their own things.

“We’re sticking to our plan and I think that has been very beneficial for us.”

But the benefit of being able to play a strong third period fades away with each goal they fall behind.

“You can’t spot teams leads or come out flat,” said James Vandermeer. “We’ve gotten away with it a couple times but you can’t rely on only playing a 30-minute game or a 20-minute game and expect to win.

“The teams in this league are way too good to be able to do that so we’ve got to make sure that we come out and play 60 hard all the time.”

But the good definitely outweighs the bad when it comes to the Oilers captain’s view of coming up big in the third period.

“I wouldn’t say we rely on it,” said Shawn Horcoff. “As with anyone, we want to play a complete game and start early. It’s always nice to have that in the back of your mind, the confidence to know you can score some goals in the third.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/Gerry_EdmSun


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